Sturgeon’s ‘expert adviser’ wastes no time in getting into the lucrative virus book business

by Colin Campbell

DEVI Sridhar is a name most people will recognise after two years of coronavirus. No one had ever heard of her before it.

But during the virus she has been everywhere, all over the media, writing countless newspaper articles based on her supposed expertise, and being a regular on the broadcast media as well. She has emerged fully into the limelight during the crisis.

Like all “experts” during this saga, she has got as much wrong as she has right. Looking back, most of the “expert” pundits regaling us with their views on the “best way forward” seemed almost as flounderingly clueless as the rest of us. Their opinions in an ever changing, ever evolving crisis do not in many cases stand the test of time.

That didn’t stop them offering them, and none more so than Professor Sridhar, as she propelled herself from obscurity to virtually become a household name in Scotland.

But she was no ordinary “expert pundit”. Appearing to be a supporter of independence, or at least keen to stress how much better Scotland was handling the crisis than England, she is also a special adviser to the SNP Government and Nicola Sturgeon.

A virus fixture in the limelight…Devi Sridhar.

It must have been music to Sturgeon’s ears when her resident “expert” claimed people from England and Wales were to blame for Scotland’s rising covid infections. She said they were generating “a stream of incoming infections”, and that being part of the UK was threatening Sturgeon’s (brilliant) efforts to combat covid.

In the event, for all Sturgeon’s “Mother of the Nation” grandstanding in her daily BBC broadcasts and elsewhere, Scotland and Sturgeon did no better than any of the other home countries in handling the crisis, and as the situation fluctuated, frequently seemed to do a good deal worse.

Last year in a particularly dark time we were branded “the covid hotspot of Europe”.

This year our infection rate has been higher than that of England. And still it goes on.

However, with regard to Devi Sridhar, we are indebted to the vile National for the following piece of information.

“Professor Devi Sridhar will be in discussion with Owen Jones about Preventable, her book about the Covid pandemic, at 6pm on Thursday, April 21, at the Waterstone’s branch at Edinburgh west end. Tickets priced at £5 are available from http://www.waterstones.com.”

So Sturgeon’s “expert” is hitting the bookshelves on the virus already, when in some ways we are still in the thick of it and it certainly isn’t over.

That was quick work. How long did it take her to write her book? Unless she knocked it off in a week, which seems unlikely, it probably took her several months.

Which would take us back to winter and a time when virus infections were soaring everywhere and hitting a record high.

If that is even close to being an accurate timescale, it seems a very odd time for a “virus expert” to start writing a book about it.

Now Devi Sridhar seems to be on some kind of book promotion venture (tickets £5 a time), being interviewed by a weird little man called Owen Jones, who writes for the Guardian and loathes Boris Johnson and the Tories to the core of his being.

I doubt if those who attend this celebrity media event (tickets just a fiver!) will find Owen Jones disagreeing much with Devi Sridhar, or asking her any tough questions. As in the number of times she got it wrong.

Of course Devi Sridhar is fully entitled to write as many books as she wants. But shouldn’t she have waited until there were clear signs that the virus was finally receding? Isn’t a book on covid just now premature, when the virus is still all around, here and everywhere else?

Of course it’s still a hot topic. And books about hot topics sell while the topics are still hot. And Devi Sridhar like every other author will be wanting to sell as many of her expensively priced books as possible.

I have no idea what it contains. But the title gives an indication. “Preventable”.

Oh yes, there’s no doubt that all calamities will look to having been more “preventable” with the benefit of two years of hindsight. And I’d strongly guess that Nicola Sturgeon doesn’t get the blame for failing to prevent anything.

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that the ubiquitous Devi Sridhar had now retreated into the shadows.

Anything but it seems. I won’t be buying her book, but if I was closer I might even go along to Waterstones to hear what she had to say to Mr Owen Jones. Signed copies of Sridhar’s latest costly words of wisdom will no doubt be on offer at the event.

Tickets just £5 a time!

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